CSKA Moscow took both revenge and a step closer to clinching first place in Group B when it invaded Bologna and knocked off Skipper 71-78 on Wednesday. The victory came two months after Skipper shocked CSKA in Moscow. CSKA also strengthened its grip on the top spot of Group B, as its record improved to 10-2. Skipper will have to wait another week to clinch a spot in the Top 16, as its record fell to 7-5. Mirsad Turkcan was the high man for CSKA with 16 points and 12 rebounds, but the Group B leaders got great contributions from reserves Theodoros Papaloukas with 13 points and Aleksey Savrasenko with 10. Marcus Brown also added 10 points. Center Tomas Van Den Spiegel led Skipper with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Carlos Delfino and Hanno Mottola each scored 13. Skipper started off frigid from long range, missing their first 7 three-point attempts and finished the game with only 5 of 18, but CSKA was even worse, 3 for 25.
These two high-scoring teams shot blanks during the first 2 minutes and 30 seconds until Victor Alexander put CSKA ahead 0-5 with consecutive baskets plus a free throw on his way to 7 points in the first 5 minutes. Skipper scored its first points after missing 8 shots on a Van den Spiegel tip-in, then pulled to 6-9 as AJ Guyton hit two floaters in the lane. Brown answered Guyton with a drive down the lane that gave CSKA an 8-11 edge, but after the slow offensive start, the four guards on the court took charge and exchanged turns scoring in the lane. After Guyton scored his sixth point of the quarter, Holden answered with a fadeaway jumper that gave CSKA a 12-15 edge. The first quarter ended with the teams going a combined 0 for 9 from long range and CSKA holding a 12-15 lead.
Skipper immediately knotted the game at 15-15 as Mottola connected on a three-point play in Skipper's first possession of the second quarter. Soon, Brown's second basket of the game gave CSKA a 17-22 lead, but Skipper started running and pulled to within 21-22. Turkcan came alive and demonstrated his skills in the paint and on the perimeter, scoring 6 straight points for CSKA on a triple then three-point play that put CSKA back in the driver's seat. Skipper then threatened to take the lead, going on a 5-0 run, but Holden subdued the guests with another picturesque fadeaway that retained a 26-29 lead for CSKA . After 2 scoreless minutes passed, Gianmarco Pozzecco led Skipper out of the dark by burying 6 straight points on a triple and three-point play. He also assisted Van den Spiegel twice as Skipper went into the break with a 37-36 edge.
CSKA opened the second half with a 0-6 partial spurred by consecutive baskets from Turkcan. Pozzecco answered for Skipper, setting up baskets by Van den Spiegel, Mottola and Erazem Lorbek that pulled Skipper to within 43-47. Turkcan answered every Skipper attack, however, scoring 8 points mostly thanks to his work on the offensive glass, and CSKA grabbed its biggest lead of the game, 44-53. Skipper's outside shooting kept it close, as Delfino and Mottola drained three-pointers and Skipper cut the lead to 53-57, but CSKA was not done. Skipper switched to a zone defense for the final 2 minutes of the third quarter and CSKA attacked it with precision. Aleksey Savrasenko was active defensively, blocking 2 shots, and also scored the final 3 points of the quarter, as CSKA duplicated its biggest lead of the game, 53-62, after 30 minutes.
CSKA continued to abuse the Skipper zone as the fourth quarter opened. Savrasenko scored under the basket, while a perimeter assault came from Holden and Papaloukas, whose three-pointer from the corner gave CSKA its biggest lead of the game, 56-70. Skipper started a modest comeback, pulling to within 63-70 on Milos Vujanic's first field goal of the game, but it took a hit when Mottola picked up his fifth foul with 4:11 left to play. Savrasenko stepped up again for 2 throws that pushed CSKA's lead to 9 points, but Delfino drained a three-pointer that gave Skipper hope at 66-71 with 2 minutes remaining. Defino scored again with 40 seconds to play, cutting the CSKA lead to 71-74 and Skipper immediately fouled Brown. Brown made both free throws, putting CSKA ahead 71-76, and Skipper failed to score on the their next possession, allowing Sergi Panov to end the game at the foul line for the guests.
Wednesday, February 4, 2004